“I could never home-school. I would probably kill my kid by Wednesday, if I had to spend the entire day with him, every day!”
Typical fare for the teenager-parent relationship? Unfortunately, yes. But ironically, the individuals making these pronouncements are often the ideal candidates for home schooling. Possibly the worst thing frustrated parents can do is send their aloof, argumentative children away (to school.) In any other setting, dropping them off somewhere, for someone else to deal with, would be deemed giving up on the relationship. (This is the way children likely perceive the slight as well – they aren’t stupid, you know.)
If the parents cannot stand to spend time with their own child, how will he ever feel loved? But parents are so blinded by school’s beacon; they shield their eyes and shove the child into the wolves’ den. (It is no wonder he returns home behaving like a wild animal.)
What children learn in school…
Parents wonder where their relationship with their teen went wrong. Answer: Their influence was all but eclipsed the moment the child crossed the school threshold. It’s that simple. Each day a young child goes to school, he learns (way too early,) that his parents don’t know everything. School reinforces this point by teaching the little ones to instruct their parents. “Tell Mommy not to pack plastic sandwich bags in your lunch – that kills the dolphins!” Mommy kills dolphins! He makes friends with other kids whose parents also slaughter innocent animals. He joins his peers, learns to challenge authority, then comes home and asserts himself. The parent thinks, “Well, that’s probably a good thing, because he is learning to be self-confident and capable.”
But a good parent has a sneaking suspicion that it isn’t quite right.
A few years later, still on the school treadmill, the youngster becomes a surly judgmental teen and the fights get too big to try to win anymore. The parent throws his hands up and sighs. “Teenagers!” It’s inevitable: the independence, the ego, his disdain for Mom’s outdated values and his resentment that Dad somehow has maintained control of the Wii remote or his access to the car.
The experts, school authorities, say they see this type of thing every day and advise the parents to weather the storm. Other parents agree: the teen years are the pits – but completely normal and acceptable. (Shrugs and chuckles!)
By “normal” they mean that most children go through this, but most children are enrolled in school. By “acceptable” they mean it simply must be endured; it is unavoidable. Wrong. “I’m too lazy to take on home schooling. It’s all I can do to keep up with their homework.” “I can’t teach my kids. What would I do when they got to algebra or calculus? I don’t remember any of that stuff.” If first grade learning is too hard, by all means, start him in school now. But let’s not fool ourselves: homework is home school (just with more pressure, later in the day, when everyone’s tired, hungry and grouchy.)
Acquaintances of mine went to a home schooling convention early on in their children’s lives and met families with polite, loving teenagers. They quickly decided, “That’s how we want our kids to behave when they are that age.” Now they successfully home school their respectful and caring teens.
On December 6th, President Obama addressed a report that US teens continue to sink in world education rankings, calling for another “Sputnik moment.” It took only 18 years to bring our space program up to par, but we were already running second in the race. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, in a recent study of 65 countries, US education scored lower than fourteenth on the list, well behind Japan and South Korea. Is a mediocre education worth risking the parent-child relationship?
Not when home-schooled children typically out-perform their public school counterparts by 30-37 percentile points across the board. Socializing all day (for that is truly what school has become,) is apparently not the most sensible way to nurture or instruct a child. With so little to recommend a public education, the decision to send a child to school must be a product of societal conditioning. Responsible parents owe it to themselves and their families to investigate home schooling options.
As distressing as they are, the parents’ mundane declarations in this article articulate tremendous loss: the death tolls of those parent-child relationships. They indicate great naïveté, and yes, selfishness. Tragically, these parents have speciously placed their hope and trust in an institutionalized “education” system that gradually but resoundingly destroys the very fabric of their family life and, consequently, the future role of family in our nation.